Back when I played Samorost and Machinarium, I placed Amanita Games high up on a pedestal – I really loved them. I’ve played similar other adventure games, but none of them seemed to raise up to Amanita’s standards – until now that is, after experiencing the wonderful game that is TOHU. It takes inspiration from their signature style, but the puzzles are more intuitive and in some ways less abstract.
Several fish-like islands inhabited by peculiar beings comprise the universe of TOHU. It’s a world in which machinery not only coexists with life, but blends with it to create fantastic creatures: a helicopter powered up by bees – BeeCopter, a street lamp whose bulb is a firefly jar etc. At the center of this world lies the Sacred Engine – the one and only heart of TOHU. The story starts one day when this Sacred Engine is attacked by a masked person – The Stranger – who comes to this realm with the intention of destroying it. You play as a little girl who, after witnessing this incident, embarks on a quest to find the necessary tools to fix it. Her path will lead you through each of TOHU’s marvelous islands where you will meet fantastic beings and each of them will bring you one step closer to your goal after enlisting your help in solving their issues.
TOHU is a point and click adventure with a straightforward and linear storyline split into 8 short chapters, each following the adventures of The Girl on one of the islands. They are quite small and each consists of 3 screens only, thus there won’t be much back-and-forth happening, plus once you leave the island you won’t have the option to go back. In tone with the core idea of the game (machines and life merged together), The Girl can transform into Cubus – a bulky yet cute robot. As The Girl, you can climb surfaces or squeeze through tight spaces, while as Cubus you can lift heavy objects. The puzzles will often have you switch the character between its two shapes and when you’re not puzzling you will be able to continue your adventure in any of these forms.
The game is played solely with the mouse (it also doesn’t have controller support at the moment), and clicking on objects will either pick them up or interact with them, while clicking on NPCs will trigger a scripted dialogue sequence (you won’t have any dialogue options to pick). TOHU’s universe is full of life and while some of the creatures you click will act as collectibles, the others are purely cosmetic and will react to you with a charming animation and with an adorable sound. The world will in return interact with you if you interact with it, or rather respond to your clicks and this might as well be the most fun part when exploring a brand new location. Most of the puzzles are fairly easy, but there are some that require more effort (more iterations to solve it) and finally there are some that require you to have very fast reactions or click at a pixel-precise moment, with a couple of them being timed – all these have the potential to become frustrating and irritating, also considering the fact that the animations take a long time to finish for some of the movements. One of the things that TOHU is lacking is a skip button, which means that if you won’t manage to complete one of these puzzles, you’ll not be able to continue / finish the story.
Most of the achievements are easy to earn, but are usually missable. Apart from 2 collectible achievements, the rest are awarded for doing things in an uncommon way and at specific moments in your gameplay. There is no chapter select after you finish the game and you can’t go back to a previously visited island, but apart from the built-in autosave, a save / load feature exists and I highly suggest making use of it if you’re an achievement hunter. Save as much as possible so you can reload later and get the achievements that you missed during your initial playthrough.
TOHU is a marvellous game that will keep you entertained for hours (between 2h and 7h, depending on your play style or if you’re using a guide). The art is amazing and the soundtrack is exquisite too. If you’re a fan of Amanita games, I’d say that this is a must-play, but keep in mind that while the puzzles are pretty intuitive, they’re not always trivial and some require skill.